Papa’s got a brand new blind bag

The matter only came up once. The cashier rang up the other items, came upon a My Little Pony toy, and asked, “For the grandchild?”

“No, actually, it’s mine,” I replied. An eyebrow was raised to bangs level, maybe a smidgen higher; but nothing more was said, and nothing since has been said.

So I wasn’t too flabbergasted when Target announced they were moving away from “gender-based” signage:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes — for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well — signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

This may benefit the 13-year-old boy who shudders every time he enters the pink aisles full of Barbie and Dora. But that boy isn’t me, and I’m figuring Hasbro will take this in stride:

To stay alive in marketing is to stay ahead of the game. Target may not have shifted the game in any noticeable way, but it has definitely “planted the plunderseeds” for the future. It’s possible that Hasbro’s future toy designs will have a little less pink and white than today’s designs. It’s also possible that nothing is going to change, and Target might roll back their choice in the coming years if it makes shopping more confusing and unfavorable towards its customers. However I have faith that Target’s choice is the beginning of something huge. Whether it’s the discussion of the social stigmas surrounding children’s toys, or an outright challenge to those by one toy company at a time, I can’t wait for what happens next.

Trust me on this: if the kids are along for the shopping trip, they’ll find the toys they want, whether you want them to or not.

(If you’re not familiar with the concept of the blind bag, this will help.)

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Beyond littleness

Last time we attempted to determine just how Little My Little Pony is supposed to be, we found a 44-inch-tall Great and Powerful Trixie. At the time, I muttered something to this effect:

I’m waiting for suitably scaled stallions, who tend to be taller than mares, or (dare I hope?) Princess Celestia or Luna.

Celestia, of course, is the tallest of them all, and I do mean tall:

Life Size Princess Celestia by Double Backstitch Arts

She was a commission executed by Double Backstitch Arts, who describes her thusly:

Weighs 60lbs plus or minus ten, is 5ft 8in tall, has a wingspan of 108 inches, has a horn nearly 2ft long, required around 25ft of PVC pipe to prop up, took up over 50lbs of stuffing, needed 18 yards of fabric, took countless hours of time over many months, and tested my limits of what I thought plushingly possible. Her regalia is made of EVA foam and lined with a soft red fabric, with custom handcrafted plastic gems. Her body and mane are made from minky, her cutie marks and irises are embroidered. And yes it was a pain embroidering a cutie mark 10 inches wide!

I have no idea how much this actually cost to produce, but hey, I don’t actually need a new car right now.

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Why we look forward to the weekend

When there’s a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s a manic Fark thread to discuss it, and inevitably thread drift is measured on the tidal scale. This week’s thread produced an utterly irrelevant but sort of amusing graphic, of Lyra Heartstrings sitting in the back seat:

Lyra Heartstrings as Rebecca Black

Which proves, I suppose, that it’s possible to get down on Saturday, if you get up early enough.

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How much is that in bits?

Sonic Rainboom at AFK TavernA Seattle drinkery called the AFK Tavern features an utterly fanciful, if perhaps a trifle pricey, libation called the Sonic Rainboom:

Flying against some Wonderbolts, or simply celebrating a friend’s big day? This colorful dropshot ought to help!

“Colorful,” from the looks of things, doesn’t even begin to describe this particular drink. On the off-chance that you’re wondering what the buck goes into this quasi-Equestrian delight:

Um, thanks, M. A. Larson! (Yet another excuse to go to Seattle some day, preferably in a rented car that doesn’t have Oklahoma plates.)

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The main disdain falls plainly on the mane

So this was a thing:

And this was the context which goes with that thing.

I decided to go in a different direction:

You’ll note that at no time did I have to explain it, of course.

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The truth is even farther out there

What would you call an X-Files/My Little Pony crossover?

Yeah, I thought so.

(Via The Daily Dot.)

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Read faster, dammit

Okay, maybe not this fast:

Ray Kurzweil, a smart guy who talks a lot about what may (or may not) happen in the future, suggests that human beings will develop computerized personal assistants that will be able to read hundreds of millions of web pages in just a few seconds.

Twilight Sparkle is a few seconds ahead of you, Ray:

Although a computerized personal assistant probably should not be the size of a Costco.

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Support your local pony fan

Now here’s a perfectly reasonable question:

I can imagine a Brony scholarship … where maybe I get to give scholarships to the people who drew the cutest fanart or made the fan-drawn comic that made me laugh the hardest. Darn it, why isn’t that a thing?

Well, of course you can make it a thing. But you won’t be the first:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

It took a little over a year, but it happened:

Pony makes things happen.

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Truth in variety

Not approved by the Staff of Sameness:

[T]ry to remember that 99 percent of the people around you are just people trying to get by. They are like you: all the colors of dirt, from pale dry dust to red clay to dark loam and everything in between. They are gay and straight and not-all-that-interested, religious or atheistic or doubting; they are happy and sad, angry and calm, often opinionated; they are clever and dull, amusing or scary or pitiable. Each one of them has got the same one vote you do and there are no prizes to be won in this life or any other by treating any of them badly.

If all your friends think exactly the way you do, you’re due for some new friends, as Starlight Glimmer has not learned.

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I don’t care if it’s one-way

Then again, it’s almost certainly too early to start packing:

Then again, where would they put an airport? Canterlot’s built onto a mountain, fercryingoutloud: no place for a runway. Cloudsdale? Naw, the planes would just crash through the clouds. Or perhaps that long stretch of nothing southwest of Canterlot on the way to Ponyville…

(Via Equestria Daily.)

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This being Derpy Day

I’m not entirely sure how the first of March became Derpy Day, though Know Your Meme says it was this way:

March 1st has become known as the “Derpy Day” due to a group started on Facebook. It can be celebrated by:

  • Eating muffins
  • Wearing gray
  • Making derpy eyes in mirrors and photos
  • Delivering letter by hand

Or any combination thereof:

Derpy Hooves Logistics by SukiStar

(The original by SukiStar on deviant Art.)

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The Weather Patrol reports in

Record heat yesterday: seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit, 2° warmer than the old record, set in 1999. (Then again, it’s February; only last Thursday it dropped into the teens and barely made it above 40 that afternoon.) I got outside and trimmed a holly. Meanwhile, Michael Eberharter went to Quail Springs Mall, specifically to Candyopolis:

Rainbow Dash for Candyopolis

Can’t argue with that, Dashie.

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Subspeciesism

There are, according to Equestrian lore, three pony tribes, or subspecies, or whatever. There are also similarly-configured creatures which are not ponies at all:

And then I thought, wait, there are donkeys … or are they mules? (The show seems to use the term interchangeably, which bugs me ever so slightly, because donkeys and mules are different). And then I got to thinking: wait. If there are mules in Equestria, if they are like the mules that exist in the human world, that would have to mean a donkey and a horse got married at some point and …

Heh. Inter-species marriage. And you thought some people had a hard time accepting inter-racial marriage.

This chap is apparently a mule:

There exists a fanfic in which a dragon and a pony mate, and the offspring has characteristics of both and is accepted by neither.

I caught a fair amount of flak a couple of years ago for suggesting that a pony/human relationship might be possible; I suspect it might be easier, if only for logistical reasons, if both partners are quadrupeds.

And in a couple of places I’ve advanced the notion that despite all these years of Harmony, there might be some lingering inter-tribe resentment, which drew me further flak.

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Wings of wonder

A fellow using the name “PinkiePieSwear” once put together a lovely little bit of electronica called “Flutterwonder,” with visuals sliced from various MLP episodes and a few words of Fluttershy’s sampled for the vocal. And it was, well, wondrous.

Then Ferexes put together a completely new animation for the song using Source Film Maker, relying on no original-series clips at all. And it was, well, just as wondrous:

The last thing I expected, though, was an acoustic — unplugged — version with the lyrics resung. (This is the first time I’ve ever actually understood the words.) Wondrousness is declared:

And this is the one thing I’ve always adored about Fluttershy: her almost-childlike sense of wonder. In fact, considering that she’s presumably the oldest of the Mane Six, this may be closer to envy.

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If I may horn in for a moment

Miss Swift’s experience as a unicorn being somewhat limited, I must point out that it really depends on what you’re used to and what shape your head is in:

DJ Pon3 wearing a headset: I'm all about that bass cannon

(Original by ezoisum.)

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Personalized boilerplate

Six years into the post-Derek Sivers era, CD Baby still retains one of Sivers’ trademarks: the chatty New Release announcement, tailored to your previous purchases. Unfortunately, only so much tailoring can be applied in some cases. This was received yesterday:

We here at CD Baby have got pretty good memories. And we just remembered that at some point in the not-too-distant past you purchased music by Various Artists.

We commend your impeccable musical taste and wanted to let you know that Various Artists has a brand new release out now. It just went live on our website for sale. And we just had to let you know FIRST since you’re one of the few hip and wise people who “knew them way back when.”

At Home cover artThat’s me: the Tastemaker™. If you actually go out to CD Baby, you will eventually find the actual description of the release, which at the moment is download-only — though past performance suggests that a physical disc may eventually be forthcoming. If you’re disinclined to hit the link, well, these are the Various Artists in question:

A relaxing unplugged collection of originals and covers with four great singers (Michelle Creber, Gabriel Brown, Monique Creber & Andrea Libman) performing solos and beautiful harmonies, accompanied by Grammy-nominated pianist, Michael Creber.

Michelle Creber, if you follow these things, is the voice of Apple Bloom on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; those other Crebers are her parents. Andrea Libman voices both Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie on MLP:FiM, though she sings only for Fluttershy: Pinkie’s out of her singing range. Gabriel Brown is the famed brony musician (and skydiver!) Black Gryph0n. The original “I Will Fight For You” was released as a single, which I bought, which explains why CD Baby suspects I might be interested in the whole album; they’ve just turned loose (on YouTube) a cover of the old Jackson 5 favorite “I’ll Be There.” I will eventually get this, of course, but my want list is at the moment overflowing, while my wallet isn’t.

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Like hell

Francis W. Porretto contemplates the distance from right this minute to the end of time:

We have been told very little authoritatively about Heaven, but its nature surely includes release from bondage to Time. Nothing else would be consistent with a state of eternal bliss. Indeed, an immortal sentenced to temporal eternity would find it to be the most extreme imaginable torment. Time is the medium of desire, effort, fulfillment, failure, and mortality; to compel an immortal, unalterable creature to endure it would utterly destroy any delight he might be offered within its folds.

At the very least, said creature might well be bored out of his skull. Several MLP:FiM fanfics have envisioned Celestia, having outlived everypony in Equestria other than her sister, trying to conjure up a way to bring on her own death and get it over with already; canon does not state that the diarchs are in fact immortal, but they do seem to hang around for an awfully long time. (When the series opens, said sister has been banished for the past thousand years, which more than meets my definition of “awfully long time.”)

And I find myself asking: does it become easier to accept the eventual end of your temporal existence when you know it can’t be far away? Should I be able to deal with it better at 61 than I was at 21? Because so far, I’m not.

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My little taggers

Did you see any graffiti in Ponyville? In Canterlot? In Manehattan, for Luna’s sake? So why would you want to see it in Butte, Montana?

Someone tagged a Butte neighborhood with not only the names but the words “My Little Pony.”

It’s unknown at this time if it’s a gang of tweens or a group of “Bronies,” adult men who love the cartoon and toys.

Given the vast quantity of hatred for bronies out there, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this was the work of self-described brony enemies, trying to embarrass (or worse) the local pony fans.

Police received reports starting Saturday morning of the cartoon names scrawled on a vehicle, fences and garage doors. The majority of graffiti was found on Keokuk and Hancock streets. About six sites were hit.

The monetary damage will depend if the black and white spray paint washes off, police said.

Well, there you go. A genuine fan of My Little Pony would have come up with show-accurate colors for each and every mention.

(Michelle Malkin saw this before I did.)

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On the edge of the Everdead Forest

All eyes are turned to Dallas, no thanks to some schmuck who’s been incubating Ebola, and Nightmare Nights, a My Little Pony convention coming up in the area, answers the question “Would it kill you to attend?”:

The patient was been placed in isolation — separate medical staff, separate water supply, and in-room destruction of all materials — at a hospital just over 30 miles from our convention venue, and remains there today. “Dallas” is a metropolitan area encompassing 9,286 square miles. It’s bigger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. Trust us, we are well away from this hospital.

The venue is actually in the town of Addison, at the far north end of Dallas County.

Further reassurance:

We are not altering our plans for Nightmare Nights. Nor has school been cancelled, nor has public transit been altered, nor have any area concerts or sporting events been rescheduled. We know news organizations like to get your attention by talking about epidemics — remember when SARS, bird flu, or swine flu were going to bring the country to a standstill? — but everything here is pretty much normal.

And sneaked into the bottom:

TL;DR: There is no Ebola “outbreak.” However, as the patient reported symptoms on September 26th, we will note that Nightmare Nights is exactly 28 Days Later.

Well played, gang.

(Via EqD. Warning: Picture of Ebola Pony.)

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Mean Equestria girls

When the first Equestria Girls feature arrived last year, I noted that “I’ve already seen Mean Girls.” Nothing in that frothy little film, however, prepares you for the blackened hearts and overwrought costumes of the Dazzlings, whose origin is not from around Canterlot High, but from an Equestrian adaptation of Greek mythology, and whose song can turn anyone’s soul to the Dark Side.

Inasmuch as they didn’t have to spend half the running time explaining things, Rainbow Rocks is a far better film than its predecessor, and while there is the usual wagonload of sight gags and unexpected cameos and fanservice, there’s a nicely unfolded plot (so to speak) paced with precision, and packed with more (and better!) songs. But the best thing here, I think, is the redemption of Sunset Shimmer, once a villain, still working on being accepted as a friend; Sunset is the one character in the humanized-pony universe that is proving to have staying power. (Flash Sentry, maybe not so much.) If they’re going to keep turning out EqG stories at this level and on this budget — apparently Rainbow Rocks was distributed on Blu-ray disk — Hasbro and DHX will have pulled off a remarkable double play with a single set of characters.

We got only the one showing in town; it sold out some time before last night. (I’d ordered an online ticket on Wednesday.) About 10 percent of the crowd was doing some level of cosplay. And everyone duly hung around through all the credits, as they should have. There is, of course, a hashtag: #Ready2RainbowRock.

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